Transients and trash were the biggest complaints at a recent small-business town hall hosted by local councilmen.
The homeless people hanging around the Sheepshead Bay Road subway station are scaring customers away from nearby shops and eateries, according to some business owners.
Coupled with the ubiquitous litter that plagues the area, the loitering destitute contribute to an unwelcoming atmosphere that is keeping profit margins down for frustrated entrepreneurs, several attendees said at the Aug. 5 meeting.
“Homeless people and beggars are all over Sheepshead Bay Road,” said Dmitriy, the owner of a cafe just off Sheepshead Bay Road who declined to give his last name. “They are constantly near our cafe and scare people by asking them for money.”
The complaints were lodged at a meeting with small-business owners hosted by councilmen Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) and Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island), at Brighton Beach’s Shorefront Y.
Local residents and community activists have been complaining about the growing number of homeless people in the area since last year. Deutsch said that he knows that it is a problem and has been trying to address it.
“I or someone from my office is on Sheepshead Bay Road all the time,” said Deutsch. “I’m there so often I know the homeless people by name at this point.”
Deutsch said the 61st Precinct has agreed to post officers at the train station near E. 16th Street, and a light-tower has been installed near the station to deter people from loitering at night. His office is also working with the Department of Homeless Services to improve shelter options.
But area residents and shoppers are still waiting to see improvements.
“I still see homeless here,” said Anya Dubinskaya, who lives a few blocks away. “This street is always dirty.”
Deutsch also said he has encouraged the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Economic Development Corporation to have graffiti removed from under the train trestle and to have the grimy sidewalks power-washed. The Department of Sanitation recently cleaned up a Transit Authority lot on E. 15th Street, a block away from the train station, which was overgrown with weeds and overrun with vermin, at Deutsch’s urging.
“When people go shopping, they need to feel safe and they need to feel that area is friendly to shoppers,” Deutsch said. “People are investing thousands upon thousands of dollars into their businesses. They should get a return on that investment.”
Business owners also got to speak with Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin about her department’s business-friendly reforms, and Ari Kagan, the community liaison for Comptroller Scott Stringer, who helped translate for the many Russian-speaking entrepreneurs who attended.